Nature, the pedestrian experience and an emphasis on public art were the primary characteristics of three possible design concepts for a new Chamblee-Dunwoody Road Bridge over I-285. 

The Dunwoody City Council considered the design concepts at a March 8 meeting. The bridge will serve as a southern gateway into the city’s Georgetown neighborhood, and the city’s design efforts will run in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Transportation’s plan to add toll lanes along the highway over the coming years. 

The consulting firm Kimley-Horn has contracted with the city and the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts (PCIDs) to come up with design enhancements for three separate bridges along I-285. While GDOT would cover the cost of building the bridge itself, Dunwoody will be responsible for enhancements. 

The PCIDs will cover features added to two bridges over I-285 on Perimeter Center Parkway and Ashford-Dunwoody Road, and is also responsible for design enhancements to a Mount Vernon Road bridge over SR 400 in Sandy Springs, according to Kimley-Horn representative Eric Bosman. 

The council first gave input on possible bridge design enhancements at a Jan. 25 meeting. At that meeting, the council stressed the need to work with the PCIDs to ensure a uniformity in design across all bridges, as well as the importance of prioritizing the pedestrian experience and incorporating aspects like greenery and public art. 

The first design concept, dubbed the “Granite and Greens concept” by Kimley-Horn, would use granite as a theme throughout. Preliminary sketches and concept examples show potential shade structures or trellises along a pedestrian walkway. A railing structure would mimic a natural design, such as leaves or branches. 

Concept A sketch: Granite and Greens
On the left, sketches of design concept A, “Granite and Greens.” On the right, photo and sketch examples of the types of enhancements that could be incorporated in this design.

“This idea focused around that granite-and-green theme that runs through Dunwoody,” said Kimley Horn representative Winston Mitchell. 

The second concept, “The Art Walk,” would focus on showcasing public art in the bridge’s design. In this concept, two platforms could be built into a retaining wall so that oncoming traffic could see an art installation. This concept also features a railing that would extend beyond the parapet wall. According to Mitchell, all the bridges along I-285 have different forms of parapet walls, or a barrier that is an extension of the wall. 

Concept B sketch: "The Art Walk"
On the left, sketches of design concept B, “The Art Walk.” On the right, photo examples of the types of enhancements that could be incorporated in this design.

“Using a unified railing that came down over that and masked that a little bit would be one approach to unify all the bridges in the corridor,” Mitchell said. 

The third concept, called “Contemporary Nature,” puts an emphasis on trees surrounding the bridge. This concept applies a textured concrete to the bridge, which would mimic nature and trees. Mitchell said the design also could incorporate planting beds to create places of refuge along the bridge for pedestrians. 

Design sketch for Concept C, "Contemporary Nature"
On the left, sketches of design concept C, “Contemporary Nature.” On the right, photo and sketch examples of the types of enhancements that could be incorporated in this design.

The council did not come to a decision on which design it would choose, but most council members said they favored the first concept.

“I’m leaning towards the first one myself,” Councilmember Pam Tallmadge said. “It has a clean look, fresh with the greenery suggestions and the pillars. But I also like number two.”

Bosman said Kimley-Horn has started conversations with the PCIDs about the other bridges, but would like to move towards a work session with both groups in the next month or two to determine a final design direction. 

“Design by committee usually ends up in something pretty horrific from a design standpoint,” Bosman said. “We want to focus on a general direction and then bring a committee of the whole together before we’re ready to leap into anything final.”

Sammie Purcell is Associate Editor at Rough Draft Atlanta.